Ridiculous, understandable and pitiful rankings for the 2016 presidential race

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Florida is enormously important because it has 29 electoral votes — fourth most among all states and by far (by 12 actually) the most among swing states.

Here’s a double shocker. The punditocracy has already started compiling a list of likely swing states for the 2016 presidential race and, shocker No. 2, Florida and Ohio are deemed likely to be the key states that will determine the race.

The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report (until recently just the Rothenberg Political Report and congratulations to Nathan Gonzales for his promotion) has already started ranking states according to swingliness. (And yes, I know, that is not a word.)

The effort at such rankings is ridiculous, understandable and pitiful. Ridiculous because the election is 20 months away. Understandable because birds gotta fly, bees gotta sting and pundits gotta do this. And pitiful because it’s always Ohio and Florida and most of the rest of us are chopped liver.

Ohio, which ranks seventh among the states in electoral votes with 16, has given those electoral votes to the winner in each presidential election since 1964 (that’s 13 in a row, the only state to have done so) and all but one election since 1948 (that’s 17 out of the last 18).

Florida really entered the ranks of the swingliest states in 2000 (when it played a  memorably swingly role and we won’t ever really know who got the most votes) but is enormously important because it has 29 electoral votes — fourth most among all states and by far (by 12 actually) the most among swing states.

Rothenberg and Gonzales (who have rated every state in likeliness to give its electoral votes to the blue or the red ticket without any real idea yet who will be the nominee on at least one of those tickets) actually named four pure swing states with no lean either way — Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. Florida and Ohio are the biggest two.

Which brings me to the last adjective above: pitiful. By what logic other than the  strange logic of Electoral College-ism would the citizens of the world’s leading democracy accept a system in which the voters of 40-something of the 50 states accept that their individual votes are irrelevant to the outcome but the citizens of four to 10 “swing states” will determine who will be president — and that in all recent cases the list of those four to 10 always includes Ohio and Florida?

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/12/2015 - 09:42 am.

    Logic test

    “By what logic other than the strange logic of Electoral College-ism would the citizens of the world’s leading democracy accept a system in which the voters of 40-something of the 50 states accept that their individual votes are irrelevant to the outcome but the citizens of four to 10 “swing states” will determine who will be president — and that in all recent cases the list of those four to 10 always includes Ohio and Florida?”

    Allow me to suggest that logic has little to do with the question.

    Maybe Klingon logic?

    Relatively open political processes all seem to have their own individual weirdness(es). This just happens to be (one of) ours, and a product of relatively recent times in some ways. In other ways, of course, the issue of “swing states” goes back a long, long way. There have always been “swing states” in presidential elections. We just haven’t always known which ones qualified for the label. Think of it as another of the sometimes-dubious benefits of technology.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/12/2015 - 09:46 am.

    This naive whining is really beneath you Eric. What you’re saying is that because voters of 40 something states have become entrenched politically, and the count doesn’t suit you, it’s time to scramble the eggs.

    Well here’s a little not-so-secret, secret. The electoral college was put In place for a reason, and that reason has done nothing if not become more important.

    You think you know divisiveness? You ain’t seen nothing until the country finds itself ruled by an urban, leftist elit who’s worst nightmare is being stranded 5 miles from home without cab fare.

    Right now, the electoral college is the thread by which our Democracy swings. You may not always like the direction, but swinging is better than falling, trust me.

    • Submitted by David Koller on 03/12/2015 - 02:34 pm.

      Actually two reasons

      To avoid being ruled by a tyrant (left or right) is one reason for the electoral college by buffering the people from the election of a president. The other is to provide smaller states more electoral power. Their votes representatively count more than a medium of larger state. The reason you cite (tyrant I think) is the least important and probably one most people agree could be dismissed. Smaller states will never allow the electoral college to be disbanded.

  3. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 03/12/2015 - 09:56 am.

    Pitiful?

    I agree that it’s a bit ridiculous to try and predict how all of the states will vote next year but I have to disagree with the last paragraph here. The 40 states that aren’t very swingy aren’t irrelevant to the process, they’re just more predictable. Does anyone doubt how the good people of Texas and Illinois will vote in 2016?
    Would it be a good thing if states changed their voting culture more often? Probably, but I have no idea how to bring about such a change. Minnesota is stuck in the longest rut. Does anyone have an idea of how to make it less predictable?

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/12/2015 - 10:36 am.

    Because

    they can’t agree on an alternative?

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